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Arachnophobia: An Irrational Fear or an Age-old Tradition?
Following through some news links I came across a link to a story on Fox News called '2 people dead after swarms of venomous spiders invade Indian town'. My cursor hovered over the link. I was curious. Part of me wanted to be freaked out by the photo I was certain would accompany the article. And part of me even thought, "be brave, you fool!"
But I can tell you no more about the content of the article. I only know what the title has revealed - that two people are dead in an Indian town because of spiders. VENOMOUS spiders, at that!
Why? Why haven't I clicked on the link and satisfied myself that I'm a grown-up and that I can indeed handle anything that's thrown at me? (Oh, and please, that doesn't mean that you can throw a spider at me. Want to see a grown woman sob and squeal and possibly faint??!)
It is a phobia. Arachnophobia, in fact. Nothing more, nothing less. But why has this particular fear chosen me? I like snakes. I like meeting new people. I even like flying. Why spiders?
For your viewing pleasure
For me personally, I can not think back to any one event that would have led to this irrational fear. But then, I'm sure that the event need not have been memorable or long-lasting for it to be significant.
Although no one knows for sure what causes arachnophobia, experts believe that it stems from us humans having used arachnophobia as a survival technique. Seeing as most spiders are venomous - although the vast majority are not dangerous to humans - it was wise to keep our distance from spiders. Passed on from generation to generation, this strive for survival has evolved into a phobia.
The other school of thought is that phobias like these are based on cultural beliefs. For example, most people would show a fear when confronted with a big spider, but those in South America eat large spiders so one would imagine that they would not be afraid.
Is it common?
Wikipedia suggests that:
"In Western societies as many as 55% of females and 18% of males are estimated to experience arachnophobia."
"Arachnophobia is the most common of all phobias."
With the help of a therapist, a person suffering with arachnophobia can go through systematic desensitisation, where they are first exposed to photos of spiders. Then they move on to coming face-to-face with a real spider. And finally, to holding a spider.
The therapist will help with relaxation techniques and in some cases, medication.
I won't be horrible and put any pictures of spiders on this page. It wouldn't do me any good either.